12 Things You Never Thought to Do With Packing Peanuts

Loose-fill packaging materials like polystyrene packing peanuts do a great job of protecting fragile items during transport. But what to do with them once you’ve opened that shipping box? Whatever you do, don’t throw them away! There are a lot of ways you can reuse and repurpose packing peanuts. Check out our favorites.

  1. Packing and Shipping

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    Packing and Shipping

    The most obvious way to reuse packing peanuts is to use them for their original purpose—packing. So, save them for the next time you need to send something fragile in the mail, or when it comes time to pack away the holiday dishes. 

    Related: 11 Packing Tips & Tricks for a Smooth Move

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  2. Keeping Drinks Cold

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    Keeping Drinks Cold

    Use packing peanuts to make a quick and easy DIY cooler. Just put your cold drinks in a tub full of polystyrene peanuts and let them serve as insulation.

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  3. Improving Drainage for Plants

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    Improving Drainage for Plants

    Place a layer of packing peanuts at the bottom of a planter to facilitate drainage for potted plants. This is a great solution for large planters, because the lightweight peanuts take the place of heavier soil, reducing the overall weight of the planter and making it easier to move around.

    Related: 25 Plants for Your Easiest Garden Ever 

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  4. Filling Beanbag Chairs and Pillows

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    Filling Beanbag Chairs and Pillows

    Do you have a saggy beanbag chair that needs some revitalization? Use leftover packing peanuts to add some extra oomph to that chair, or to puff up throw pillows or other items around the house that need a little more heft.

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  5. Protecting Your Walls

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    Protecting Your Walls

    Slice a packing peanut in half with a sharp knife, and glue the flat edge to the back of framed mirrors and artwork you hang around the house. This little bit of cushioning will protect your walls from scuffs and scrapes.

    Related: Mirror Magic: 10 Ways of Using Mirrors to Your Design Advantage

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  6. Creating Crafts

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    Creating Crafts

    There’s no end to the craft uses for packing peanuts. You can use them for stuffing, string them together, use them to apply paint, or do something entirely different. Packing peanuts can spark creativity in kids of all ages.

    Related: Kid-Friendly DIY: 10 Projects Sure to Inspire Summer Fun

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  7. Covering Pointy Tools

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    Covering Pointy Tools

    Protect yourself from the point of a sharp tool by sticking a packing peanut onto the end before putting the tool away.

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  8. Tightening Loose Screws

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    Tightening Loose Screws

    If a screw has gotten too loose, break apart a packing peanut and stuff a little of that polystyrene into the hole. The screw will sit a lot tighter when you put it back in.

    Related: How To: Use a Screw Extractor

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  9. Crafting Holiday Decorations

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    Crafting Holiday Decorations

    String packing peanuts on a length of fishing line to create a DIY garland this holiday season.

    Related: 12 Totally Unexpected Ways to DIY a Holiday Wreath

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  10. Making a Sensory Bin

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    Making a Sensory Bin

    A tub full of packing peanuts can keep a small child busy on a rainy day. Hide little toys and household objects inside, and you’ve created an instant treasure hunt for a curious tot.

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  11. Cushioning Fruit

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    Cushioning Fruit

    When you store delicate fruits and vegetables, surround them with packing peanuts to prevent them from getting bruised. 

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  12. Arranging Dried Flowers

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    Arranging Dried Flowers

    You can use packing peanuts to help hold stems in a dried floral arrangement. Just fill a vase or other container with packing peanuts, and then let them do the support work.

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    Even if you've got your heart set on hardwood flooring, it's worth considering the alternatives. Sometimes, materials that only look like wood can be just as good as—or even better than—the real thing. Explore your options now!